The Importance of Children’s Eye Health

By Mitchell Ducett, DO | Family Medicine PGY-1

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month and the perfect time to share one of the most common conditions of pediatric eye health, strabismus. Strabismus is the fancy medical term for when eyes don’t naturally look at the same place. This is also known as lazy eye and can cause issues like double vision that can negatively affect your child.

Tips to help children with eye health

  • Make sure you attend all your child’s well-child appointments, and all follow-up appointments with your family doctor or pediatrician to catch this issue early on.
  • Always feel comfortable asking your child’s doctor questions and telling them concerns like if you see something “funny” with the movement of your child’s eye. You know your child best!
  • If either parent had a lazy eye or was crossed eye, your child has a higher risk. Tell your child’s doctor of a family history of eye or vision issues.
  • Does your child bump into things when they are walking or crawling? That could be a sign that they have vision issues that you should talk to their doctor about.
  • The sooner you have it diagnosed, the better! Knowing if there is a problem and addressing it will help your child’s vision and development.
  • Treating a child can prevent amblyopia – where the brain favors the “good eye” making the lazy eye even worse.  Half of children with a lazy eye will develop amblyopia, which is still treatable. But the sooner, the better!
  • Treatments usually include eyeglasses, visual exercises, and/or an eye patch over the “good eye” to increase the use of the other eye. Occasionally, surgery is needed on the muscles in the lazy eye that help it move.

The best way to help your child with their eye and vision health is to catch it early. Knowing these signs and learning a few more here, will help parents, family, and any babysitters or caregivers. Vision and eye health is so important to their overall development, so keep an eye on your child’s eyes!

5 Things to Know for Flu Season 2021-2022

Flu season is around the corner and NOAH is ready to keep you and your family protected. We know that with COVID there might be additional questions about the virus, symptoms, and the vaccines. NOAH has you covered with these top five things to know about flu season.

1. Flu Season Is Almost Here

Flu season officially starts in October and can last through May of the following year. But the peak of flu usually happens around December through March with February being the month that often has the most flu cases nationwide.

2. Try These Safety Measures Stop the Flu

Many of the things we are doing now to slow or stop the spread of COVID like extra hand washing, more antibacterial gels and wipes, staying home when sick, wearing masks (especially if sneezing or coughing), will help reduce the flu as well! During last year’s flu season, the flu was minimal because of these safety measures, along with a lot of social distancing, so it is possible to keep the spread of flu lower than previous years.

3. The Flu Vaccine Helps

Every year, flu shot manufacturers identify the strains of influenza A and B that pose the most risk for the coming season. Flu shots also include H1N1, and because of flu shots, H1N1 isn’t causing outbreaks anymore. Flu shots are adjusted every year with new influenza (flu) strains because it mutates like all viruses.  

4. Flu Shots Help Different Ages Appropriately

Children are a high-risk group with flu so anyone 6 months and older should get the flu shot. When children under eight are getting the flu vaccine for the first time ever, they will need to have two doses, given four weeks apart. The following flu seasons will be just one dose.

A high-dose flu vaccine made specifically to support the more fragile immune system of people 65+ is available during flu season.

5. Flu Shots and COVID Shots Can Go Together

The CDC says that it is safe to get the flu and COVID vaccines at the same time.  If you have any concerns about potential side effects or changes in effectiveness of the vaccines if given together we suggest talking to your NOAH provider to come up with a vaccine plan that is right for you.

Almost everyone can and should get the flu shot every year, including people with egg allergies.. The only people who shouldn’t are patients under 6 months old or someone with history of an anaphylactic reaction to the flu shot in the past or a flu shot component. 

The CDC has a lot of information about flu season including updated flu cases and vaccine activity on their website here. NOAH offers patients different options including regular appointments and drive-up flu shots. If you have questions about the flu vaccine or want to schedule your appointment, contact NOAH today!

Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Hidden Health Concern

By Daniel Davis, MD | Internal Medicine

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that affects millions of Americans.

This condition increases risks for things like car accidents and strokes, and it can make other medical conditions worse. Learn more about about the condition, symptoms, how to get screened, treatments, and more.

What are the symptoms?

It can be hard to diagnose sleep apnea because there is a long list of symptoms, and some aren’t very noticeable.

Common symptoms include:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring at night
  • Pauses in breathing with gasping or choking sounds
  • Morning headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Mood problems
  • Frequent urination at night
  • Insomnia
  • Not feeling rested even after sleeping all night.

Some people with the condition may have minimal or no symptoms at all.

What are risks from having sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is associated with a very long list of medical problems. Some of the most serious are increased risk of stroke, heart attack, worsening hypertension, congestive heart failure, heart arrhythmias, and can cause sexual problems. Many of these things, like stroke risk or sexual problems, have shown to improve with treatment.

Who should be screened?

Anyone with the common symptoms above should talk to their medical provider about testing for sleep apnea. Screening is also good for people with related conditions, or people with “mission critical” professions like pilots, bus drivers, and truck drivers.

How are patients tested?

Sleep apnea is either diagnosed with a test at home or an in-lab sleep study. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests anyone with severe insomnia, those who take sedatives or narcotics, or have any heart or lung conditions to do an in-lab sleep study. For other people, the cheaper home test is a good option.

How is sleep apnea treated?

The good news is that there are effective ways to treat sleep apnea. The most common treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. CPAP machines are a mask attached to a machine that provides pressure to prevent airway obstructions. A CPAP can work wonders, but some patients need time to adjust. If you are having trouble with your CPAP machine, ask your medical provider or go to this website to get help from other people living with this condition.

CPAP is the best treatment, but if patients cannot adapt to it, other, less effective treatments like dental devices and surgical procedures can be options. Behavioral and diet changes can also improve sleep apnea. Consider avoiding alcohol and self-medicating for sleep, try to lose weight, and adjust sleep positions for possible improvements.

Want to learn more?

If you have questions about sleep apnea or think you or a loved one may be suffering from this condition, talk to your medical provider. NOAH providers can discuss symptoms or concerns you have and make a treatment plan. Visit the AASM sleep education website for additional information about many sleep-related conditions.  

NEWS: Pfizer COVID Vaccine Receives Full FDA Approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval for the Pfizer COVID vaccine Monday, Aug. 23 for patients 16 and older. This is the first COVID vaccine to be granted full approval from the FDA.

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement.

In December of 2020, the Pfizer vaccine was granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA and has been administered to millions of people nationwide with high success rates. In May 2021, Pfizer submitted to the FDA’s Biologics License Application for the 16 and older population and was granted approval today.

To receive approval, the FDA reviewed data that has been updated since initial clinical trials (data that allowed for the EUA in December) which included tracking outcomes in even more patients over a longer period of time after receiving the vaccine doses.

The Pfizer vaccine, now marketed as Comirnaty, is still approved for use under the FDA’s EUA for patients ages 12 – 15 and for a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

Moderna, which also received EUA in December 2020, began the process for full FDA approval earlier this summer and approval is expected later this year, but because every vaccine is different timing may vary. Johnson & Johnson has not yet begun the process for full FDA approval but has issued statements that they plan to submit for approval later in 2021.

NOAH offers all three COVID vaccines at health center around the Valley. To request a vaccine for people 12 and older, call 480-882-4545 or request a vaccine appointment online.

Be in the Know: Childhood Vaccines

By Amit Jain, MD FAAP MBA | Pediatrician

We’ve all heard about immunizations; the good, the new, the questions, and even the confusion. Misleading information about childhood vaccines often causes fear or uncertainty in parents who only want the best for their kids. It’s important to remember the significant benefits that have come from childhood vaccinations. In fact, humans have benefitted immeasurably from immunizations for over 200 years!

To give you a little more peace of mind the next time your child is due for routine immunizations, let’s address some of the most common questions parents have about vaccines.

What are Vaccines?

When various viruses, or other germs enter our body, our immune system sees parts of the germs as foreign matter (called antigens) and determines that they don’t belong. Then, our immune system creates a defense against the germs – called antibodies – to attack the viruses. Most vaccines work in the same way, with weakened or dead pieces of the virus (so it is impossible to get the virus from the vaccine) prompting the body’s immune system to create the antibody defense without actually getting the virus – many of which can cause lifelong problems or even death. Vaccines help your body fight the real thing without risking your health to develop the antibodies.

Why Get Vaccinated?

The reason is simple – vaccines save lives! According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, there was a 99% decline in deaths from diseases targeted by vaccines before 1980 and a decline of 80% or more for diseases with vaccinates developed after 1980.

Childhood vaccines protect against 16 known viruses and bacteria. Before vaccines, these germs caused severe illness, disability, whole-body paralysis, and even death. I have personally seen some terrible cases of many of these, such as meningitis, as well as their complications with children being paralyzed, requiring lifelong hearing aids, or needing feeding tubes for infections caused by HiB (Haemophilus Influenzae Type B), which is now prevented by a vaccine.

Schools also require children to receive at least some immunizations before starting school, and throughout school years.

Are Vaccines Safe? What About Side Effects?

Vaccines are generally very safe. They are backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Practice, and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For more information, check out this overview of how vaccines are tested for safety.

It is normal for kids (and adults) to have some mild and temporary symptoms like a mild fever, or soreness at the site of the immunization. Serious allergic reactions, like anaphylaxis, are extremely rare. As a provider, in weighing the risks and benefits of giving vaccines, as I do for any treatment or prevention, the benefits far outweigh any risks.

When Should I Get My Child Immunized?

Childhood vaccines should start right after birth with the Hepatitis B vaccination! Going forward, there is a specific schedule of when certain immunizations should be given. Pediatricians and Family Practitioners follow the the CDC Immunization Schedules for Infants, Children, and Adolescents.

If you have additional questions about vaccines or keeping your child’s immunizations up-to-date, talk with a NOAH provider.